What is more adventurous than a trip to the very North of Sweden, travelling through the snowy wilderness, with all your gear being carried by a dog and a pullkka (a Nordic sled)? The answer – throwing a brand-new baby in to the mix. We caught up with Johan Pettersson (Export Sales for Europe and Military markets at Hilleberg) who, earlier this year, did just that.
Johan has worked for Hilleberg for 8 years, after some time in the Swedish military service and studying for a financial / sales degree. Originally from a small town in the North of Sweden, Johan grew up with adventure in his blood, having skied for over 20 years, including competing at national level in Nordic skiing with a dog. Naturally, when his partner Pernilla gave birth to their son Nils, Johan decided to take full advantage of the very generous paternity rights in Sweden and journey back to his adventurous roots with his family.
Can you tell us a bit about your trip and why you wanted to do it?
I spent a lot of time in Northern Sweden growing up and really love it there. The ski resort there, Riksgränsen, is the world’s most northerly ski resort and you can ski there right up until midsummer. I made a promise to myself that when I became a father, I would take my family to this region in spring because that is when the weather is the best. In Sweden, both parents can take up to 30 full days of paternity leave at the same time so I figured this was the best time to do something like this. We left Östersund, our home town, straight from work at the beginning of March and headed North. Pernilla and I started the trip by taking part in a cross-country mountain to coast race, where we spent four days skiing mountainous terrain and crossing a frozen river. We then spent two weeks, with Nils, skiing over 200km through the wilderness of the Kebnakaise region in the North of Sweden, taking in the famous Kungsleden (King’s Trail) route.
How did you carry all your luggage and where did you sleep?
We both pulled one pullka each while on cross-country skis and we also each had a dog in front of us on a leash. Pernilla took Nils and Nils’ clothes on her Pullkka and I had all our gear and food, including 150 diapers, 750 wet wipes, and 5kg of milk powder! We didn’t follow the usual straight Kungsleden route because we wanted to experience some more remote areas and visit all 14 of the famous mountain huts along the way. The original route is 130km but our zig zag version was around 200km in total. We stayed in the mountain huts, which was a really cool experience and a safe and comfortable place for Nils. We used our tent for shelter during the day when stopping for breaks and lunch.
This is quite an epic trip, even without a young baby, did you ever feel worried at all?
Not really and I don’t think this would be the type of trip to embark upon if you didn’t feel confident in your abilities. This sort of environment is within my comfort zone and trips like this are one of my life hobbies. I have also gained a lot of useful skills while working at Hillberg and from my military service. I knew what to expect and what to take. I felt comfortable which allowed Pernilla to feel safe and good in this environment with Nils. I made sure we had all the right safety equipment, clothing and gear to keep us safe including sleeping bags, a stove, repair kits, extra ski poles, extra tent poles and a satellite phone. There were tough moments, of course. We had to climb up three small mountain passes after the snow had melted slightly from the sun which made it difficult for the Pullkka to slide easily. There was one occasion where I had to do the uphill journey twice to help Pernilla. We were out for a full 12 hours this day and ended up making our way back to the hut in the dark.
Which Hilleberg Tent did you take with you and why?
Most of the route we took was off piste, so our lunch stops and breaks really were in the wilderness. We used our Hilleberg Nallo 3 as a shelter when we stopped for lunch or when Nils needed to have some rest. The Nallo is a Red Label tent which is lightweight but still offers the reliability you need. Normally I would have chosen a Nammatj or a Keron but since the tent was for emergency rest and lunch breaks, we decided to go for a lighter option. It was a super easy way to shelter from the weather quickly when we needed to. We also took the Hilleberg Windsack and this came in handy when we had shorter stops and breaks and when we needed to feed Nils.
How did your son, Nils, get on with the travelling and the camping?
Nils was great, he could simply sit and enjoy the scenery pass by and sleep whenever he wanted to. We could see he really enjoyed it but it was quite tough for us as he was going through a phase where he wanted to constantly be on the move. As soon as the pulkka stopped, he would get upset so we had to keep moving a lot of the time. It was Pernilla, the dogs and I, that did all the hard work. I should also mention that Pernilla was a few months pregnant at the time with a new baby on the way.
What were your highlights?
Pitching our Hilleberg Nallo at the base of the Nallo mountain was really cool!
What advice would you give to someone looking to purchase a tent?
I would say the first thing to do is measure your height (or the height of the tallest person staying in the tent) and make sure you pick a size that will offer enough room to comfortably sleep. Secondly, if you can, try go for a size up. So if two of you will be staying in the tent, go for a three person one. This allows for extra room for your gear and just gives you a bit more space. My last piece of advice would be to think about what sort of environment you will be using the tent most in then chose a label and a shape that best fits this.
What do you have planned for your next family adventure?
Since we now have two kids, one only a couple months old, we will go for a lighter mountain trip this winter. I think the plan is to do the Jämtland Triangle. This is another famouse hiking route in Sweden and we will travel from Storulvån to Sylarna, to Blåhammaren and then back to Storulvan.
Find out more about the Hilleberg products we have in store on our Tent Guide.